British Gas is keeping its current gas and electricity prices on hold until August. The company said it was able to hold tariffs in the face of higher wholesale prices by cutting its costs. However, Scottish Power has said it is raising its dual fuel prices by an average of 7.8% from 31 March. It blamed smart meters and low carbon energy costs for the rise.
Responding to news Citizens Advice has said this shows that energy firms can choose to keep their customers’ bills down. Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy, said “British Gas’ price freeze shows that raising prices isn’t a supplier’s only option. This demonstrates that larger energy firms can choose to keep their customers’ bills down. Yet Scottish Power’s price rise is the second from a supplier in a week that will hit loyal customers on the more expensive standard tariff hardest.
“In the last few years larger suppliers frequently failed to cut the bills of their loyal customers on the standard tariff when wholesale costs were lower. These firms should now be looking to ways to support their customers where possible – freezing prices is one way to do this. The government is right to say it will intervene if markets aren’t working for their customers. One way government could help struggling households would be to extend the prepayment meter cap to those on credit meters who are eligible to receive the Warm Homes Discount, helping low-income pensioners and families.”
Stephen Murray, Energy Expert, MoneySuperMarket, said “It’s clearly open season for energy price movements. Wholesale costs are clearly a dark art, which is shown by the different percentage rises, particularly in electricity, that EDF, npower and today Scottish Power have announced. And, to add to the unpredictability of the market, a British Gas price freeze until August 2017.
“Average rises, whether broken down by gas or electricity, are confusing enough for bill payers. The only figure they need to pay attention to is the total, which if you’re on a standard tariff, is clearly too much. So there’s no point customers trying to second guess what’s going to happen next. Regardless of which supplier you are with, if you are on a standard tariff – which is more than likely if you haven’t switched within the last 12 months – you just need to switch to a cheaper fixed deal now. There are savings in excess of £200 to be made – it is really up to consumers to take control.”